No, it's not some new astromech droid from Star Wars, it's the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo!

To put it bluntly, I had a fucking blast!  I woke up at around 8, got a shower and dressed, swung by and picked up Dusdan and we were off!  The coolest thing on the trip up to Chicago was all of the Wind Turbines that were installed along I-65 just outside of Lafayette.  Holy Hell it was like being transported into some European county, very surreal.  After stopping off at the emptiest Subway in America, we realized the time difference between here and Chicago despite us only traveling about 30 miles west.  After gaining an hour we managed to make several wrong turns along the way, we were safely put back on track with the assistance of Dusdan's Omni-Tool, aka the iPhone.  After arriving and paying 20 bucks(bulllllshit!) for parking we made our way indoors.

After surveying the battlefield Duzz and I walked down the central lane and stopped by the Threadless booth and said hello to our mutual friend Lance Curran. In Artist Alley we said hello to Guy Davis, Artist of B.P.R.D and creator of Marquis.  After yakkin' at Guy about Aeron Alfreys absence from the con we decided to hit up George R.R. Martins table and and get our books signed before he left for break.  Since a Feast for Crows is the only hardcover Martin book we both own, that's the one we got signed.  George was a totally cool dude(he looks like Santa Claus!), there wasn't very many people at his table this early, so we got little talk time at him while he signed our books(he wrote "all the best" in my, and "keep your swords sharp" in Duzz's).

After getting our books signed, we split up and exploring the grounds on our own.  I dropped some mail off at Erika Moen and Lucy Knisley's table and made my way into the DC booth to check out some of the new toys coming out this year.  They had several new WoW toys, including Garrosh Hellscream and the Lich King, a surprise was a bunch of Mass Effect 2 toys which I didn't even know they had, they showed off Male Commander Shepard, Grunt, Thane and Tali, they all looked cool except Tali who's helmet wasn't made from clear plastic.

Departing from the DC area, I stopped by the Archaia Studio's booth and said hello to David Petersen, creator of Mouse Guard.  He gave me a signature and a cool sketch on my hardcover Mouse Guard Fall 1152 book.  I would have really have liked to talk to him more, but no sooner then I had gotten by book signed a line started forming behind me, I bid him well and continued on.  I strolled by Artists Alley and tried to stop by Jill Thompson's table, but she was out doing a something so I wandered around some more.  While wandering Artist Alley, I bumped into Erika Moen, creator of DAR.  It was really cool running into her, we chatted for a few seconds before we split up, though I made sure to tell her I'd be by her booth to buy some of her goods. 

Around 4 Duzz and I hooked up again to get lunch.  The food court was pretty big with a fantastic view of the Lake Front, although the food was expensive, 6.50 for a Hot Dog and a can of Pepsi, and the Hot Dog wasn't all that great.  After lunch we split up again and continued our adventures.

The amount of Comic Store booths at this place was pretty impressive, with a great selection of comics/toys/graphic novels or any thing else a comic shop would carry.  There was also plenty of clothing places too, the afford mentioned Threadless among them.  One of the best sights however was the Cosplayers, I'm still kicking myself for forgetting my camera.  There was a guy dressed up as Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3, a beautifully curvaceous  Wonder Woman, and thick thighed Cammy from Street Fighter, and even a Cursed Pirate Girl.

Around 4 I made my way back to Artist Alley were I finally got to meet Jill Thompson.  I really dig her water colors and I picked up a Beasts of Burden print that she was kind enough to sign.  One thing I found out about Jill Thompson is that this lady loves to talk, talktalktalktalk, but she does it in the kind of like your favorite aunt who's always understanding, and not the aunt who's always bustin' your balls about how you're living your life.  I made my way out of Artist Alley and over to the web comics section.  I felt really sorry for these guys because they were positioned right next to the tatooing booth, that would really suck to have to watch people get tatoos all weekend.  I first stopped by Danielle Corsetto table and said hello, she's a really cool chick and I picked up a 7$ sketch of Hazel from Girls with Slingshots with my name on it.  Then I went one booth over to Jeph Jacques' table where Jeph was doing sketches for 5$ bucks a pop.  Jeph was kind enough to indulge me by giving me a sketch of Hanner's as Tali from Mass Effect 2.

Finally, I stopped by Erika Moen and Lucy Knisleys table.  I talked to Erika's husband Matt Nolan for like 30 minutes about Mass Effect 2 and the choices of good and evil in video games.  I bought a copy of DAR and chatted with Erika about her model work and life in Portland.  I scooted over a few feet and talked to Lucy Knisley, she thanked me for my letter I gave her and we talked for awhile about cats, art, food and family for a good while before I decided to depart so she could get back to her commission artwork, it was totally the high point of my time there.

I made one last tour of the Artists Alley before leaving and while making a turn a woman came up to me and asked if I liked Neil Gaiman, I replied "of course" and she gave me a free ticket to his reading that he was having later that evening.  As cool as it would have been to see Neil speak, it was only one ticket, and I didn't want to make Duzz wait in like for a ticket he might not even get, so we just said fuck it and made our way out.  A few wrong turns later we were out of Chicago and on our way back home.  We made a pit stop in Merriville for some Chipolte and continued on.  After we lost the hour we gained we got back around 11, exhausted, but happy we made the trip.  Hopefully next year I'll remember my camera and even perhaps stay for the whole weekend.

Fuck Microsoft!
That's right, fuck Microsoft. I'm know I'm not the first person to say that, and I know for damn sure I won't be the last, but it's now my time to say it.  Fuck Microsoft!!

I bought my first 360 in 2005.  I used it mostly for Gears of War and as a glorified dvd player.  Then in 2007 Halo 3 came out, the reason I bought a 360 in the first place.  Well, 2 months before Halo 3 came out, my 360 had a Red Ring Meltdown. Calling Microsoft I got the run around from their tech department and basically told that the warranty didn't cover my type of Red Ring Error.   I managed to scrap together enough money to buy a replacement at Best Buy.  On the way out the cashier asked if I'd like the 2 year warranty with my 360 for 40 bucks.  Well I figured, since 360 broke down without even 2 years worth of play on it there's a good chance this one will break down too.  So I took the warranty, the 360 and walked out the door.  Well, one year later my Xbox melts down, I contact the insurer for the warranty and get the awesome news that it's gonna be 85 bucks to get it fixed.  Well, they had me by the balls, I want to play Gears of War 2, and I didn't want to fork 300 bucks for another 360.  So 2 weeks later I get my 360 back and it was all good to go until yesterday when I felt like watching a movie before bed when the picture comes up all green and static, the exact same way it was when it crashed last time.  So My 360 has less than a week to live and I'm having a hard time justifying buying a new one.

I love video games.  Anyone who knows me know that goes without saying.  I've enjoyed playing video games since my dad brought home our first NES and fired up Super Mario Bros. for the first time.  I got an SNES in 92 and I've put alot of hours on that fucking system, hundreds and hundreds hours.  Super Mario World, Chrono Trigger, Street Fighter 2, Act Raiser, Final Fantasy II and III, the list goes on and on.  17 years later that system STILL FUCKING WORKS!!  Shit, the original controllers I got still work.  Afterwards came the PS, PS2, Dreamcast, the OG Xbox.  All went though their respective times with me with perfect service records without a problem, except for my Game Cube.

Two years into owning a Game Cube I started to get a crashing error while playing.  After testing this a few times, I called the Nintendo to see where we stood as far and warranty.  After reading the error code to the Nintendo Employee he told me that Nintendo would fix my Game Cube at no charge to me and that I had two options, I could drive to Indy and have it fixed, or I could have FedEx come by and pick it up for me at no charge to me.  I decided for the later choice, and Monday afternoon the FedEx man came by and picked up my Game Cube.  That Friday the FedEx man came by again and dropped off my fixed Game Cube.  Broken Game Cube shipped out and back to me inside of a working week, talk about service!

Now I'm not a moron, I understand the 360 is a much more sophisticated machine that the SNES or the Game Cube and the more sophisticated the machine more things that can go wrong. But the kind of guff I've gotten from from Microsoft over my 3 broken 360s just frustrates me on a level that's hard to put into words.  My 360 is less of a video game/dvd player, it's more of a way to have easy access to my friends.  Maybe I'm just being melodramatic but I think that Mircosoft really owes it to it's customers to put out a quality product, because when you burn someone this many times with faulty hardware don't be surprised if they stop coming back to you.  I think I actually might look forward to a Macintosh Game console, but for now, I guess I'll take it in the ass from Microsoft one more time just to maintain ties with everyone and hope that 4th times a charm when it comes to 360s.

One Crazy Night
It's been one of those fucking nights.  What started out as a Reunion of people I used to work with turned out to be one of the darkest fucking evenings in a while.  I mean, it started out ok, the Reunion went fine, lots of fun and crazy people to look at, but afterwards at the bar it all goes to shit.  We were all having a good time until a good friend of mine said the wrong word to the wrong person and got decked in the face pretty hard.  After the police came and went and the bar closed up, I took my drunk charges to their homes and went home myself.  Just before I went to bed my step-brother shows up to inform me that another close friend got mugged while escourting someone home.  Not just mugged, but got the shit beat out of him pretty bad, got his wallet and iPhone stolen. Jesus, I hate this town.

New Berserk!!

It's that time again, the bi-monthly trip to Castle Comics to pick up my new volume of Berserk!  I can't believe this shit is already up to 30 Volumes and that I've been collecting them for almost 4 years!  Kentaro Miura has been working on this beast of a manga for close to 20 years and amazingly the manga doesn't show it's age, it feels as fresh and brutal as the day I started reading it.  The thing that's changed the most it's probably the art style.Visually, the art style seems so much more refined and detailed compared to the very early stuff.  That's not to say that the early stuff wasn't a visual knockout, it's just that these recent volumes Mr. Miura has gone all out to present a world that's in the throes of decay and on the cusp of a major change as the realm of the fantastic and the horrific begin to slowly converge on Berserks Medieval Europe inspired world.

Story-wise the volume begins right were the last one left off, with Guts and Serpico dueling beneath the great port city of Vritannis.  Haunted events from the 28th Volume, Serpico's motivation for dueling Guts is simple, he's desperate to protect Farnese from Guts losing control to the Berserker Armor at all costs, even if it means his death. I've been waiting for this rematch for quite sometime now, ever since the 17th Volume.  Even though Serpico doesn't use his Wind blessed Sword and Cloak and Guts doesn't use the power of the Berserker Armor, they both show no restraint towards one another, they're both fighting to win(maybe to kill?)  While Serpico uses every trick in the book to try to even the odds against Guts(specifically, dueling in an area where Guts can't bring the full weight of his sword bear), he's very conflicted about his need to fight.  He recognizes the positive effect that his journey with Guts has had on himself and especially Farnese, but he's sparked into action by the fear that Guts might lose control again while using the Berserker Armor.  Although the outcome of the fight is never really in doubt, it serves as a building block for Guts and Serpicos relationship. For the majority of his time with Guts, Serpico's relationship has evolved from regarding him as dangerous man to be tolerated for Farnese's sake to a mutual respect and maybe seeds of a new friendship.

After concluding their duel, the group makes their way to Ball that Lady Farnese is attending.  Before they can arrive however, the party is crashed by giant tigers that are empowered by Emperor Ganishka.  Guts and his party show up and violence and mayhem ensue and we get to see what a tiger looks like when he's split down the middle!  Although the tiger violence is pretty awesome, I was kind of let down by stories sudden shift to Guts and crews attempt to get the docks without resolving the lingering plot threads of Farnese's relationship with her domineering father.  As I just stated, the bulk of this volume is mostly occupied by Guts n' the gangs attempt to hack their way though a monster infested Vritannis in an attempt to reach a docked ship that will transport them to Elfhelm. 

This volume also introduces the Pope of the Berserk world.  Presented here, the Pope is a elderly dying man, who regrets that his life has been full of modicum, and he deeply regrets never having made a real difference in the world.  While on his death bed, he recives a vision of a glorious white hawk who tells him the chance to seize destiny is still there, if he only reaches out is hand.  Invigorated by this vision, he  meets with two messengers who agree to take take the pope to Griffith.

The volume closes out with Guts stomping some monster face in with the promise of much more to come.  The only thing that really disappoints me about this volume is it's length, it's about a full 40 pages shorter than any previous volume before.  This combined with the fact that it still carries the 14$ price tag make it a bit hard to swallow.  So now that i've bi-monthly dose of Berserk, I'm left feeling sad that now I've got another 2 months before I can get my next fix >_<


Inaugural Post!
So here it is, my Inaugural Post on Live Journal, within the coming weeks I'll be posting what's new with me, my thoughts on books, movies, video games and whatever else strikes my fancy!


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